Weekend Box Office (August 13 - 15, 2004)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Fight fans lined up for front row seats to see two cinematic beasts compete for the gold medal as the sci-fi action film Alien vs. Predator opened at number one in theaters across North America. Delivering a strong silver medal finish was the G-rated teen comedy The Princess Diaries 2 which debuted in second place while fellow freshman Yu-Gi-Oh! fell short of winning the bronze. Despite the start of the Summer Olympics, moviegoing saw a healthy boost from last weekend.

Fox scored its sixth consecutive opening over $20M with the creature feature Alien vs. Predator which grossed $38.3M, according to final figures, in its first battle. The PG-13 film averaged a strong $11,279 from 3,395 theaters and played mostly to a male audience of action fans. Although lacking stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sigourney Weaver who made the original films popular, and their more brutal R rating, AVP still scored a victory with a potent showing at a time when ticket sales usually start to weaken. The gross even went a step further than the $36.4M opening of the R-rated slasher flick Freddy vs. Jason which launched this very weekend a year ago.

Studio exit polls showed that 70% of the audience was male which surprised nobody. But sales stumbled a frightening 25% on Saturday from Friday indicating a large share of the total audience came out on opening day and subsequent weeks should have vicious declines. AVP scored the fifth biggest opening ever in the month of August trailing Rush Hour 2 ($67.4M), Signs ($60.1M), American Pie 2 ($45.1M), and XXX ($44.5M). For Fox, the sci-fi flick caps off a terrific summer that has included hits like The Day After Tomorrow, I, Robot, and Dodgeball which has pushed the studio up to third place in year-to-date market share behind Sony and Warner Bros.

Playing to a less violence-loving crowd, Disney's The Princess Diaries 2 opened in second place with a weekend take of $23M and a five-day tally of $37.1M since its Wednesday debut. Averaging a solid $6,612 per site, the Garry Marshall-directed sequel reunited Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews and generated a three-day performance that was nearly identical to the $22.9M launch of its 2001 predecessor The Princess Diaries. Diaries 2 played to a young female audience allowing it to capitalize on a marketplace with little to excite that demographic group.

After shooting its way to number one last weekend, Tom Cruise's assassin pic Collateral held up very well in its second hit sliding just 35% to $16.2M for a robust ten-day cume of $52.6M. The DreamWorks action drama posted the lowest sophomore decline for a number one opener since Fahrenheit 9/11 which doubled its theater count in its sophomore frame. With competition not too fierce in the coming weeks, Collateral could certainly become yet another $100M grosser for Cruise.

Opening in fourth place was the animated adventure Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie from Warner Bros. which grossed $9.5M. Playing in 2,411 theaters, the big screen adaptation of the popular cartoon series and trading card phenomenon averaged a decent $3,934 per location. Nearly half of the weekend sales came on opening day as fans rushed to theaters to get a new trading card given away free with each ticket purchase. Weekly declines are sure to be hefty.

Universal's Matt Damon spy flick The Bourne Supremacy dropped 4% to $8.6M pushing its cume to $139.7M. The M. Night Shyamalan thriller The Village fell another 57% to $7.2M and brought its 17-day sum to $99.9M for Buena Vista. Both films have become the highest-grossing titles for their respective studios in a year.

Off 41%, The Manchurian Candidate took seventh place with $6M pushing the cume to $48M after 17 days. Sony's Little Black Book lost 47% of its numbers in its second weekend with $3.8M take. After ten days, the Brittany Murphy comedy has grossed $14.6M and should find its way to $22-24M.

A pair of sci-fi blockbusters rounded out the top ten. Fox's I, Robot took in $3.9M, off 41%, for a $134M total. Spider-Man 2 declined 35% to $3.5M giving the Sony smash $361M. That puts the webslinger sequel at number nine on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters right behind The Passion of the Christ which grossed $370.3M earlier this year.

Three July releases dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. New Line's Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle tumbled 56% to $1.4M putting its cume at $15.8M. The $9M comedy looks to end its run with $18-20M. The Warner Bros. feline flick Catwoman dropped 68% to $933,383 giving the Halle Berry pic $38.2M to date. The $90M entry will conclude with just under $40M with little hope of having another life as a franchise. The Hilary Duff hit A Cinderella Story fell 70% to $869,210 and has charmed $49.4M from moviegoers to date. Warner Bros. should reach an impressive $50M for the teen tale.

The top ten films grossed $119.8M which was down 6% from last year when Freddy vs. Jason opened at number one with $36.4M; but up 25% from 2002 when XXX remained on top with $22.1M.

Compared to projections, Alien vs. Predator surged higher than my $30M forecast and The Princess Diaries debuted better than my $17M prediction. Yu-Gi-Oh! opened on target with my $9M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the future of the Jason Bourne franchise. For a review of Open Water visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Exorcist: The Beginning and Without A Paddle both open.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Aug 13 - 15 Aug 6 - 8 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Alien vs. Predator $ 38,291,056 3,395 1 $ 11,279 $ 38,291,056 Fox
2 Princess Diaries 2 22,956,453 3,472 1 6,612 37,140,203 Buena Vista
3 Collateral 16,174,309 24,701,458 -34.5 3,205 2 5,047 52,560,520 DreamWorks
4 Yu-Gi-Oh! 9,485,494 2,411 1 3,934 9,485,494 Warner Bros.
5 The Bourne Supremacy 8,600,575 14,388,915 -40.2 2,976 4 2,890 139,697,965 Universal
6 The Village 7,157,635 16,468,564 -56.5 3,142 3 2,278 99,862,707 Buena Vista
7 The Manchurian Candidate 6,013,857 10,256,421 -41.4 2,612 3 2,302 47,989,278 Paramount
8 I, Robot 3,866,317 6,516,075 -40.7 2,178 5 1,775 133,967,480 Fox
9 Little Black Book 3,784,115 7,075,217 -46.5 2,445 2 1,548 14,644,825 Sony
10 Spider-Man 2 3,512,027 5,431,777 -35.3 1,907 7 1,842 360,973,268 Sony
11 Napoleon Dynamite 1,756,496 1,739,326 1.0 563 10 3,120 15,880,823 Fox Searchlight
12 Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle 1,404,200 3,191,701 -56.0 1,206 3 1,164 15,820,102 New Line
13 Garden State 1,387,775 511,589 171.3 175 3 7,930 2,640,971 Fox Searchlight
14 The Notebook 1,155,431 1,866,066 -38.1 925 8 1,249 74,694,064 New Line
15 Fahrenheit 9/11 1,011,855 1,911,605 -47.1 716 8 1,413 115,487,706 Lions Gate / IFC
16 Catwoman 933,383 2,901,301 -67.8 1,175 4 794 38,244,199 Warner Bros.
17 Open Water 894,747 1,100,943 -18.7 55 2 16,268 2,527,632 Lions Gate
18 A Cinderella Story 869,210 2,878,301 -69.8 1,205 5 721 49,378,271 Warner Bros.
19 De-Lovely 691,617 912,159 -24.2 393 7 1,760 9,786,184 MGM/UA
20 Anchorman 650,415 1,581,228 -58.9 707 6 920 83,470,623 DreamWorks
Top 5 $ 95,507,887 $ 72,890,575 31.0
Top 10 119,841,838 93,809,730 27.7
Top 20 130,596,967 106,439,701 22.7
Top 20 vs. 2003 130,596,967 140,353,515 -7.0

Last Updated : August 17, 2004 at 1:00AM EDT

Gitesh Pandya can be seen each Friday on "The Biz" airing live at 12:30pm ET on CNNfn with replays at 4:30pm and 9:30pm.